The content mill is the equivalent of a Victorian workhouse for the writer. It’s where rates are low and the taskmasters (editors) are harsh, and often illogical in their griping. Most writers dream of the day where they can leave the content mills and take on private clients. That’s the land of milk and honey.
Despite the many evils of content mills, they can teach newer writers some valuable lessons. Here are just five of these essential lessons writers learn from content mills.
1. You Don’t Need to be an Expert
New writers look at all the potential titles they can write about and they run the other way. They don’t know anything about car insurance, knitting, or content marketing. After you’ve finished working with content mills, you know the answer to practically any conundrum can be found through Google.
Most writers aren’t experts on their chosen subjects. Specialisation tends to come long after leaving content mills behind.
2. Self-Discipline is the Main Driving Force of Freelancing
Working for private clients requires you to edit, submit your work on-time, and deal with clients directly. You’ve already learned this level of self-discipline through working with editors at content mills. The difference is now there’s no room for error. Previously, it was the content mill taking the blame if you screwed up and missed a deadline.
When you’re ready to abandon content mills, you’ll already have the self-discipline needed to succeed.
3. Different Guidelines
Most writers work for a range of content mills. Every content mill has its own guidelines, whether these relate to style, content, or editing. These are the same demands you have to deal with when it comes to private clients. Some might want APA formatting, whereas others look to Chicago.
As a successful writer, you need to be able to juggle these guidelines. Working with different mills enables you to master this juggling act early in your career.
4. The Highest Quality
Content mills are often accused of asking too much. It’s what frustrates writers who work there. They won’t accept even the occasional missed comma. Yet you’re writing about how to install a shelf in a kitchen. It’s not like you’re writing a speech for your Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
Content mills teach you about what clients expect, even if the pay doesn’t reflect what they’re asking for. On a side note, you’ll also develop that vital thick skin you need. In freelance writing, you can’t take things personally.
5. You Can Write for the Big Boy
The intimidation factor is there for any new writer. Imagine if someone asked you to write for BMW or Coca-Cola. What about that big content marketing company you’ve had eyes on? It’s intimidation and it can paralyse you.
So many writers are shocked when they begin writing for content mills. Many big, well-known brands use these companies. And you’re more than capable of writing for them.
The aura of difficulty surrounding these big names leaves you within weeks of successfully writing with content mills. When you deal with these clients directly in later years, you won’t feel the same degree of trepidation as you once did.
What’s the Main Lesson?
All these lessons have the same thing in common: confidence.
You will learn how to write confidently. Forging your own business in any industry is about having the confidence, and some would say arrogance, to take charge of matters and go forward. It’s about taking calculated risks, and this is where confidence is key. Every successful freelance writer has confidence, and they learned it from content mills first.